Friday, January 9, 2015

Didi 950 Keel Build by Howdy Bailey

Howdy Bailey Yacht Services in Norfolk, Virginia, is building the keel for the Didi 950 project in Ohio. This one has a fixed keel that is supported by a steel box on the inside of the hull and which is bolted to the grid structure. The box also forms the engine beds, to concentrate these major weights in a tight area for low pitching characteristics in lumpy water.

Howdy and his staff are doing a masterful job of building this keel, which is assembled over a rigid skeleton of schedule pipes between end plates. The side plates are wrapped over the skeleton and plug welded.
One of Howdy's staff welding the keel structure.
Completed keel skeleton with pre-formed side plates awaiting fitting.
Same stage, looking at the top plate.
The tubular internal skeleton, instead of transverse plate spacers, has multiple benefits. The pipes make the skeleton very rigid to resist twisting when fitting the side plates, they have soft surfaces to minimise hard spots that can distort the side plates, they present broad surfaces for plug welding the side plates and they serve as efficient heat sinks to draw heat away from the plug welds, minimising heat distortion.

The keel bolts bear on the keel box inside the hull, sandwiching the hull skin between the the two. Howdy Bailey Yacht Services fabricated the box as well, then shipped it to the builder. He has test-fitted the Beta 15hp motor on the beds ahead of installing the box into the boat. The following photos show the box with engine standing on the integral engine beds.
Didi 950 keel support box front view.
Beta 15 being test-fitted on the engine beds.
Aft view. The holes are for shaft, exhaust and ventilation.
Finding a suitably qualified engineering company to make the keel is often a worry for people considering building an offshore boat. Howdy and his staff have the experience and are available for this work.

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